More than three million workers are being warned that they could face a hefty on-the-spot fine if they fail to submit their self assessment tax return by the deadline this week.
The penalties for failing to file your tax return on time are automatic and fixed, with the initial fine costing £100.
When is the self assessment tax return deadline?
The deadline for completing the self assessment tax return online is 11.59pm on Friday 31 January 2020.
Those who submit later than the deadline will be landed with an initial penalty of £100, rising to an additional £10 per day after three months. After six months, this penalty rises even higher to include five per cent of the underlying tax that is due, or a charge of £300 - whichever is greater.
If the tax return is still not submitted after 12 months, a further five per cent of the tax due, or £300, will be charged. Again, the charge will be whichever amount is greater.
Last year, more than 700,000 people missed the deadline to return their self assessment form and became liable for penalties, and millions of workers have still yet to complete it, according to HMRC.
The deadline for completing the self assessment tax return online is 11.59pm on Friday 31 January 2020 (Photo: Shutterstock)
A reasonable excuse
If you miss the tax return deadline, you need to have a reasonable excuse for doing so to avoid a penalty.
HMRC says that a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline is “normally something unexpected or outside your control that stopped you meeting a tax obligation.”
Such examples include the recent death of a partner, an unexpected stay in the hospital, computer failures, service issues with the tax authority’s online services, a fire that prevented the completion of a tax return, or postal delays.
Excuses that HMRC will not accept include:
You relied on someone else to send your return and they didn’t
You found HMRC’s online system too difficult to use
You didn’t get a reminder from HMRC
If you have a disability and claim to have a reasonable excuse that prevented you from meeting a deadline, HMRC will consider whether you made a reasonable effort to file on time.
Who should file a self assessment tax return?
A self assessment tax return is required to be submitted if you meet any of the following criteria:
You are self-employed and work alone (a sole trader)
You are a partner in a business
You received £2,500 or more in untaxed income in the past year, for example from tips or renting out a property
Your income in the past year from savings or investments was £10,000 or more (before tax)
Your income (or your partner’s) was more than £50,000 and one of you claimed Child Benefit
You are a company director (unless it is an unpaid position for a non-profit organisation, like a charity)
If you haven’t filed a tax return before, you will need to register for your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) activation code on the Gov.uk website. However, this can take a few days to arrive as you will receive your code in the post.
Once registered, you can file your tax return online and will need to prove your identity using Government Gateway or Gov.uk Verify.